Patient Rights and Responsibilities

The Patient’s Bill of Rights was first adopted by the American Hospital Association in 1973.  Patient rights were developed with the expectation that hospitals and health care institutions would support these rights in the interest of delivering effective patient care.  A physician’s ultimate goal should be patient welfare and alleviating suffering.  Ideally, the patient-physician relationship is based on trust and mutual respect.  In this post,

I’ll share some of your rights and responsibilities as a patient.

Your patient rights are the same across all areas of healthcare.  The wording may be slightly different, but the meaning is what matters.  Your first right as a patient is to be treated well as a person.  You should not feel scared to interact with physicians or staff.  Another right is that you should be informed of available treatment options and the optimal course of action.  You have the right to ask questions freely to make sure you understand.  Since seeing the doctor can be complicated, write down your questions before you get there, and bring someone with you as an extra set of eyes and ears.  After you know your treatment options, you can accept or refuse any recommended treatment, and you can get a second opinion.  Throughout the process, privacy and confidentiality should be safeguarded.  And, if you experience unethical behavior by physicians or staff, you have the right to know the procedures for handling grievances.  These rights are meant to ensure you feel safe and comfortable enough to get the care you need.

Along with your rights (which give you the final say in health decisions), you have responsibilities as a patient.  Ideally, your relationship with your physician should be a collaboration where you work together for your health.  You are responsible to provide as much of your medical history as possible.  The more information the physician has about you, the better they can help you.  You also have the responsibility to follow through with agreed-on treatment plans.  Then if those don’t work, you can discuss what else to try.  Another of your responsibilities is to prevent illness and injury as much as you can through a healthy lifestyle.

When I got new AFOs last year, at first they caused pain and red marks.  I lost count of how many times we went back to the office for an adjustment, went home to test them out for two weeks, and went back in to try something else.  We monitored my pain levels and marked the red areas with a black marker.  It took more than a year, but we finally found what worked.  The technician worked hard, and my mom and I worked hard.  We did it, together.  When you feel comfortable with medical professionals, they become essential assets in your quest for good health.  Remember, you have rights as a patient, but also responsibilities.

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